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Obama White House called "hostile workplace to women"
September 18, 2011 7:02 AM   Subscribe

A new book says women have been marginalized in Obama's White House, according to an article in the Washington Post. Former communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying the White House "fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." The book also quotes an unnamed official saying that "the boys' club" was not "just Larry [Summers] and Rahm [Emanuel]," but that Obama himself was responsible: "The president has a real woman problem."

Dunn appeared to have toned down her statements in an interview on Friday, saying the White House "was not a hostile environment." She added: "The president is someone who when he goes home at night he goes home to house full of very strong women. He values having strong women around him."

The article notes: "In November 2009, female aides complained to the president about being left out of meetings, or ignored."

The book is Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, by journalist Ron Suskind. The Washington Post article is based on excerpts of the book, which will be released on Tuesday.
posted by John Cohen (117 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Say hello to President Perry.
posted by warbaby at 7:08 AM on September 18, 2011


Bush was better?
posted by LogicalDash at 7:14 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


When was the last time Obama had good press? The bin Laden killing? The wheels are completely coming off this administration.
posted by gerryblog at 7:16 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bush was better?

Bush was largely irrelevant; also to the discussion at hand.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:17 AM on September 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


Ya don't say!
posted by symbioid at 7:17 AM on September 18, 2011


I'd hope that the accusations aren't true. I'd even more hope that if there is even partial truth to this, that their being aired will lead to immediate and substantive changes being made.

Bush was better?

People can be all kinds of contradictory. Bush's administration was terrible for women in terms of policy, but I don't recall any accusations of him personally having a problem feeling threatened by strong women or needing to silence them.
posted by Forktine at 7:22 AM on September 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


The wheels come off when you put your two cents on the railroad track.
posted by The White Hat at 7:22 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, the book is about Wall St. and not Obama's supposed "women problem"? I would venture to say Clinton had more women problems.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:23 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


People can be all kinds of contradictory. Bush's administration was terrible for women in terms of policy, but I don't recall any accusations of him personally having a problem feeling threatened by strong women or needing to silence them.

Didn't he try to give Angela Merkel a backrub?
posted by asockpuppet at 7:29 AM on September 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


So, the book is about Wall St. and not Obama's supposed "women problem"?

Well, I haven't looked at the book and even the Washington Post writer hasn't read the whole thing, so I can't speak to how much of the book focuses on this issue. I wouldn't assume the subtitle lists everything in the book worth talking about. Also, if the problem is that women in this administration don't have much input, that they're left out of important meetings, etc., then couldn't that have something to do with why a book about important decisions that have been made by the administration wouldn't mainly focus on women? But if even one page of the book contains an allegation like this, I think it should be taken seriously.
posted by John Cohen at 7:31 AM on September 18, 2011


So.... are we supposed to take away from this that Obama is sexist? Because that seems to be an absurd claim based upon everything we have seen from him to date. Just last week I read that 47% of Obama's confirmed judiciary nominees are women, far exceeding both Bush and Clinton's numbers. The most damning passage quoted in that article is a statement by Anita Dunn, who has since denied it in an interview with someone else. Do I think that Rahm Emanuel is an asshole? Yes, I think that is likely. But I do doubt that he is more of an asshole to women than to men who are outside his inner circle. I think he is an asshole to lots of people, and that you could probably find quite a few male aides within the White House who also felt marginalized and talked over in meetings with Emanuel and Summers and their whole crew.

I'm just tired of this shit. I've always been a liberal democrat and I'm disappointed with a lot of things about the Obama administration, but the partisan sniping and nitpicking is so out of control that it makes me want to cancel my internet connection and never leave the house. I've already cancelled cable. I was a poli sci major in college and never could I have anticipated I would start actively avoiding all political news before I was even out of my 30s.
posted by something something at 7:32 AM on September 18, 2011 [108 favorites]


Guy just can't catch a break.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:39 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


If Obama didn't have (what seems to me to be) a good record of giving women in his administration power and confidence - e.g. Clinton, Warren, Napolitano, and (oh yeah) those two Supreme Court justices - I'd be more worried about the environment in the White House. Groups of men will behave like groups of men, but Obama and his team have made what seem to be great efforts toward inclusivity and outreach.

The Wall Street stuff is a way, way, way, way, way bigger issue. Unfortunately no one knows or cares, because there's no major-party alternative.
posted by waxbanks at 7:42 AM on September 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Obama has indeed elected the most women to his Cabinet of any president so far (six; compare to the younger Bush's four and Clinton's five), but the claim made by Romer is that women are treated differently. From the WashPo article, page 2:

Obama, according to the book published by Harper Collins, failed to call on Romer after asking her male colleagues for their opinions.

This is the problem. There are two possibilities. One, Obama selectively calls his Secretaries on issues related to their areas of expertise, and the above incident is describing one of those issues for which Romer's expertise is simply not relevant. Or two: women and men have equal titles, expertise, and representation, but even under such a relatively egalitarian Presidency, women aren't called upon to give the expert opinions for which they were hired.

A more interesting question would be whether Hillary, as the highest-ranking Secretary in the Cabinet, agrees with Romer's observations. And of course one must ask how much the book is even about gender issues in the Presidency (it's not). Has WashPo always been hell-bent on such negative press toward Obama?
posted by nicodine at 7:43 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the book Geithner also denies that he ignored Obama’s order, but the book offers a portrait of a president who was outmaneuvered by Beltway insiders, according to Suskind.

That's the whole thing right there. The only person in the Obama administration capable of navigating the Beltway insiders is Hillary Clinton. Of course the other women feel outmaneuvered - even Obama should feel outmaneuvered.
posted by three blind mice at 7:44 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the problem.

I agree. Deciding that one incident is sexist sub is definitely a problem on Romer's part.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 AM on September 18, 2011


When was the last time Obama had good press?

NYT gave his recent jobs proposals some positive attention.
posted by Jpfed at 7:54 AM on September 18, 2011


But if even one page of the book contains an allegation like this, I think it should be taken seriously.

Anita Dunn hasn't worked at the White House in almost two years. Are you always so quick to take "allegations" seriously? Perhaps if the allegation is aimed at Obama?
posted by chrismc at 7:55 AM on September 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Romer is claiming she doesn't remember making the statements in the book.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:56 AM on September 18, 2011


Say hello to President Perry.

Bush was better?


You know, it's okay to consider issues like this without going to the, "Well, Republicans are worse!" place. And whether or not this has been a problem in the Obama administration, it's a separate issue (to me) from how many female Supreme Court justices he is responsible for.

One of the things that really hit me hard during the 2008 Democratic primary was the undercurrent of sexism that ran deep even in the liberal part of the party. I read so many awful things from progressives that I would have considered to be on "my side", and it was completely disheartening. I don't know, for some reason I expected better, and it was a horrible experience (but had the benefit of leading to a feminist awakening on my part).

I don't think badly of Obama (even though he wasn't my first choice in the primary), and I don't think he's some kind of rampant misogynist. But even the most egalitarian men and women grow up in a society where women are still not taken as seriously in many ways, and where it's seen as normal for men to dominate classroom discussions. (There have been some fascinating studies on this, how women are seen as talking way too much even when their classroom participation is well below 50%.) This is something that runs so bone-deep that most people aren't aware of it, even though they may consider themselves completely respectful of women. I have no idea whether there's actually truth to this, but I don't think it should be shut down out of hand. Considering this issue seriously is not going to lead to the election of Perry, and it does a disservice to think that we have to ignore it or gloss it over because - gasp - even worse people may take Obama's place! We're better than that.
posted by Salieri at 7:59 AM on September 18, 2011 [21 favorites]


This is about selling copies of books. Nothing more, nothing less. Predictable that someone blames Bush and the Republicans, its like the trick pony of irrelevancy.
posted by midnightscout at 8:03 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


If true, I can't say I'm especially surprised.

Obama has displayed a shocking willingness to toss women under the bus in order to advance "more important" policy goals. Look, for a major example, at the casual way Obama threw away reproductive rights in a pathetic attempt to get Republican support for the ACA. You don't do that sort of thing if you think women are people.

I'd argue that Obama's decision to abandon LGBT issues is, indirectly, related to a general indifference to women. LGBT gains deconstruct patriarchy, legal same sex marriage deconstructs the idea of marriage with a husband in charge and a wife submissive. I think that's one major reason why the various anti-gay groups are so up in arms about gay marriage.

I wouldn't be surprised, is what I'm saying, if it turns out that Obama has a woman problem. His actions so far have been mixed. Women appointed to the Supreme Court, but women told to get back to the kitchen at the same time.

NOTE FOR IDIOTS: No, I'm not saying McCain would have been better. Criticizing Obama != endorsing Republicans. Thank you for not being an idiot and claiming that's what I'm doing.
posted by sotonohito at 8:13 AM on September 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


I've climbed aboard the Disappointed in Obama bus, but only for a little while. He's flawed and hasn't walked on water like we thought he would, but the Republican options are, again, so scary. We were scared of a W. presidency, and it turned out worse than many could have imagined. Obama can be pretty flawed before my loyalty is challenged.
posted by theora55 at 8:15 AM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


sotonohito: "NOTE FOR IDIOTS: "

Classy.
posted by zarq at 8:16 AM on September 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


The left sure does love cannabalizing own. Maybe a President whose nickname in Texas was "Crotch" would foster a better work environment for women in the White House.
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:18 AM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


but women told to get back to the kitchen at the same time.

kitchen, state department, supreme court, whatever.
posted by chrismc at 8:18 AM on September 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


Meet the Press just said Obama might have a problem with Jewish voters. Who do they think we are going to vote for? Silly talking heads.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:19 AM on September 18, 2011


Bush was better?

Bush was largely irrelevant; also to the discussion at hand.


I disagree. I'm not an Obama apologist, but I would be more inclined to believe that the "boys club" is American politics in general, not something just limited to Obama's administration. This doesn't excuse them if it is the case -- all bosses are obligated to make sure they don't preside over a hostile environment to anyone -- but I suspect it is far more endemic and these charges could equally have been leveled at Bush, Clinton, etc.
posted by Legomancer at 8:20 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama has displayed a shocking willingness to toss women under the bus

It'd be easier to take you seriously if you didn't use that moronic phrase.
posted by empath at 8:20 AM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


It really is amazing to me, I'm not saying he is perfect, but he could hand out 20 dollar bills in the street and the headlines would be "Obama refuses to hand out 50s"
posted by Ad hominem at 8:23 AM on September 18, 2011 [50 favorites]


The West Wing on Feminism.
posted by Fizz at 8:25 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Obama will set a brand new precedent in 2012. He will get 2 popular votes for president, his own and Bill Clinton's. Michelle sits it out because she can't stand the way he treats women. Bill does not see an issue.

Everyone else to way too disappointed in him and will either vote for Perry or sit this one out.
posted by Danf at 8:27 AM on September 18, 2011


The West Wing on Feminism.

"A great night for women, and all the men who write their lines." -The Onion
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:33 AM on September 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Does the fact that other administrations might have done similar things mean this shouldn't be a topic of discussion now, specifically focusing on the administration that's in power now? I don't think anyone would adopt that as a general principle.
posted by John Cohen at 8:34 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama has displayed a shocking willingness to toss women pretty much anyone under the bus in order to advance "more important" policy goals.

Not that I disagree at all.
posted by threeants at 8:44 AM on September 18, 2011


Since I"m never going to read that book, and I'm never going to talk to any of the people involved in the book like President Obama so I can learn for myself, I'm going to say bullshit and move on. People shouldn't even give stuff like this the time of day in my opinion. There's no way that any of the so-called "facts" that filter down to any normal pion via book publishers and newspapers - whose very economic existence requires they sell as many issues/books as possible irregardless of the accuracy of the claims - are even remotely what they appear. For all practical purposes, "Obama is a sexist" is a non-falsifiable hypothesis and should be treated with massive skepticism.
posted by scunning at 8:58 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hope not
posted by growabrain at 9:03 AM on September 18, 2011


Just want to point this out, HarperCollins is owned by News Corp., the fine folks who also own Fox News.
posted by drezdn at 9:04 AM on September 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


Something something notes the 47% of judicial confirmations that are female.

Note, that's not evidence for or against Obama - a sexist absolutely could be confirm at 47% and it still be discriminatory. As each cohort progresses, there are more and more women candidates in the pool of potential employees at all levels of the highest possible positions in our economy. Same with minorities. The US economy has transitioned to skill-based work which values education and ability, and that has given a relative advantage to all groups, including women. Women have higher college enrollment, for instance, overall so you would expect that as time continues, the pool gets larger.

Testing for discrimination is a challenge. What it basically means is take two completely identical candidates and put them through a blind application process. One of them is a male and one is a female. If gender is concealed, then we should expect on average males will be just as likely as females to be hired. Actual hiring violates every one of those key assumptions - nothing is blind, let alone gender, and candidates are not identical. They aren't identical with underlying ability, they aren't identical even in their endogenous effort to ask for better jobs. Would Obama have hired the same number of female candidates had it been blind? Would he have hired more? Maybe less? Forty-seven percent doesn't tell us anything because we don't know the counterfactual, and with rising levels of women and minorities advancing in their careers, you will see more females in positions today than under Bush or Clinton. That's just the demographic transition driven by changing educational attainment from decades earlier.

This is where it's honestly just not answerable. You can look at someone with a much lower passage rate and say that's sexism and in fact it isn't, and you can look at someone with a much higher passage rate and say it's not sexism when it isn't. It's practically speaking for most Americans a non-falsifiable hypothesis, or at best, it's a hypothesis with such a gross false positive error rate in accusing someone of discrimination from a distance that it should be considered a non-falsiable hypothesis.
posted by scunning at 9:08 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Romer is claiming she doesn't remember making the statements in the book.

Do you have a link to something where I can read more about this? Google only turned up a Daily Mail link which I can't bring myself to click.
posted by elizardbits at 9:12 AM on September 18, 2011


Meet the Press just said Obama might have a problem with Jewish voters. Who do they think we are going to vote for? Silly talking heads.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:19 AM on September 18 [+] [!]


They are probably basing that on two things: 1, that the people in Anthony Weiner's old district voted for a republican, purportedly because of the Republican's views on Israel. And 2, that they assume that Jewish voters are unidimensional.
posted by gjc at 9:12 AM on September 18, 2011


Dunn appeared to have toned down her statements in an interview on Friday, saying the White House "was not a hostile environment."
She goes farther than that: She says that she told the author of the book point blank that it is not a hostile environment.
posted by Flunkie at 9:14 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is Obama's administration sexist, or was this particular woman being marginalized for some other reason, and just assumed it was because she was a woman?
posted by gjc at 9:14 AM on September 18, 2011


Dunn appeared to have toned down her statements in an interview on Friday, saying the White House "was not a hostile environment."

She goes farther than that: She says that she told the author of the book point blank that it is not a hostile environment.


The unclear part is whether she was denying that the original statement was ever made, admitting that the original statement was made but retracting it, or just not commenting on the original statement. This seems like an important distinction.
posted by naoko at 9:18 AM on September 18, 2011


I am withholding judgment until I hear what Sarah Palin has to say about this.
posted by spitbull at 9:24 AM on September 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, I think it's interesting to remember that just six months ago the media were all flipping out about how Obama was letting a bunch of girls push him around on Libya.
posted by naoko at 9:31 AM on September 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


The mefi Beltway inside-gossip election-cycle feeding frenzy of "Obama White House out of control!" took a little longer to get its engine revved up than I would have thought, but it's now apace, I see. I wonder when Bob Woodward's next book is out.

sotonohito: Look, for a major example, at the casual way Obama threw away reproductive rights in a pathetic attempt to get Republican support for the ACA. You don't do that sort of thing if you think women are people.

I'll set my calendar for four years from now so I can read your exegesis of how much value Romney or Perry and a Republican-controlled House and Senate place on women's reproductive rights. You won't be surprised then, either, I gather.

scunning: Since I"m never going to read that book, and I'm never going to talk to any of the people involved in the book like President Obama so I can learn for myself, I'm going to say bullshit and move on. People shouldn't even give stuff like this the time of day in my opinion. There's no way that any of the so-called "facts" that filter down to any normal pion via book publishers and newspapers - whose very economic existence requires they sell as many issues/books as possible irregardless of the accuracy of the claims - are even remotely what they appear. For all practical purposes, "Obama is a sexist" is a non-falsifiable hypothesis and should be treated with massive skepticism.

If I'm a peon, I shouldn't believe anything that I read unless I can talk to the relevant actors involved myself, and besides, I'm proudly going to declare from the outset that I'm never going to bother to RTFB anyway? That's a pretty hefty load of BS right there in and of itself.

elizardbits: Do you have a link to something where I can read more about this? Google only turned up a Daily Mail link which I can't bring myself to click.

Summers, Romer, Geithner, and practically everyone else interviewed in the book is disowning it and claiming that Suskind either took them out of context, made shit up, twisted their words, or violated "off the record" promises -- just as everyone in the Bush administration did when he came out with The Price of Loyalty in 2004 and The One Percent Doctrine in 2006. It's a typical ritual. Allow the veteran Beltway insider unfettered "let your hair down" access -- then feign horror and disgust when he actually publishes what he said he was going to publish, its allegations are breathlessly regurgitated by Wolf Blitzer and Chris Mathews and whoever else, and administration officials come on the news interview shows to insist that the account isn't "fair" and "nuanced."
posted by blucevalo at 9:36 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is silly. If Romer was marginalized, it was by Summers and Geithner, the other economic policy people, and those guys marginalized everybody -- including Obama, according to the book. Also, in no Administration, would you expect the CEA chair, regardless of sex, to be able to make headway against the combined forces of the head of the NEC and the Treasury Secretary.

Also, in these kind of public spats, you're not going to hear from the women who actually are influential, like Nancy Ann DeParle (health care), Hilary Clinton, or Valerie Jarrett, because why would they talk to a snooping biographer looking for scandal?
posted by zipadee at 9:37 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am withholding judgment until I hear what Sarah Palin has to say about this.
"Let's shatter that glass ceiling once and for all by electing a man who stands up for a woman's right to not be allowed to murder her unborn child"
posted by Flunkie at 9:42 AM on September 18, 2011


haha, MeFi would be all over the Bush administration for a post like this. But, with Obama, it's - who can believe this woman who hasn't been with the administration for a while? Who, who can believe this one story represents a real snub? This is all just an effort to sell books! etc etc. It's all so predictable watching this.
posted by xmutex at 9:47 AM on September 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ron Suskind Book 'Confidence Men': Tim Geithner Ignored Obama Order On Banks
posted by homunculus at 9:53 AM on September 18, 2011


The Scared President: A new account of Obama’s White House alleges that the president’s staff ignored his orders—and got away with it. Michael Tomasky on Obama’s failed leadership, and how he can fix it.
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on September 18, 2011


"Just last week I read that 47% of Obama's confirmed judiciary nominees are women, far exceeding both Bush and Clinton's numbers..."

Judges are not in the inner circle of advisors. They're just the opposite. If you cared about looking like you supported the advancement of women but actually felt better relying on men, appointing a lot of women judges would be a great idea.

As for whether Bush was worse, he clearly had Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes as close advisors within the White House.
posted by Alizaria at 9:58 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ron Suskind is the one who brought us the famous quote about the "reality-based community" btw.
posted by homunculus at 9:59 AM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


...the White House "fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women...

As opposed to the usual state of affairs in Wall Street, Big Law, or even congress? Although I am one of the many liberals disappointed in Obama's performance, I also do not believe he is some sort of messiah with the power to right all the wrongs that pervade our society. And I worry that too much ankle-biting criticism from the left may blind us to the body blows that are constantly coming from the right.
posted by TedW at 10:04 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This whole business of people getting thrown under the bus seems, to me, to ignore the way politics *works*. If you want change, you need votes. If you want votes, you need compromise. If you're going to compromise, this means not everybody gets everything all at once. That in no way indicates that you do not personally value those things or that those changes are not important. But I am personally a woman and queer and I would entirely rather that this administration pushed for changes that were going to actually be enacted than to stand entirely on principle and refuse to get any of the *possible* changes through just because it may be possibly be a few years too early for things like the RFMA. Those things are getting started, now. They're happening. That's fantastic. But it's not the legislation that's going to happen this year. Not this August, but soon.

Complaining about the portion of people he relies on personally who might be men is also misguided. It's a statistical failure. There are a lot of judicial appointments; there are not a lot of people who Obama is consulting with on a daily basis about things. I'm a feminist, and I'm willing to entertain the possibility that on occasion, the best person for the job does sometimes happen to be a man. Some of my best friends are men!
posted by gracedissolved at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, you're citing "confirmed judiciary nominees," and the Senate determines who is confirmed. We'd need some more fine-grained information to compare these numbers. For example, it might be that Obama's more extremely political choices are males and the females are easier to confirm, and that Democrats were incline to oppose Bush's female appointees for one reason or another. There's all sorts of slippage between nomination and confirmation.
posted by Alizaria at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was a poli sci major in college and never could I have anticipated I would start actively avoiding all political news before I was even out of my 30s.

Amen. I used to read 2 newspapers everyday. For me it was the Bush years that killed any interest.
posted by Hoopo at 10:07 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


@zarq Not only classy, but also completely ineffective. Note that a nameless individual, despite the notice, went immediately to "Oh so you want Romney!"

I try and head off the occasional bit of idiocy, often it fails.
posted by sotonohito at 10:08 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, you're citing "confirmed judiciary nominees," and the Senate determines who is confirmed. We'd need some more fine-grained information to compare these numbers. For example, it might be that Obama's more extremely political choices are males and the females are easier to confirm, and that Democrats were incline to oppose Bush's female appointees for one reason or another. There's all sorts of slippage between nomination and confirmation.

Or, of course, the other way around. 47% could be high relative to the nomination rate, or more likely low relative to the nomination rate.
posted by kafziel at 10:17 AM on September 18, 2011


So far no one seem to be backing Suskind's account. The people he quoted deny they said it. This will give Greenwald, Limbaugh and the other Obama haters some new material to echo chamber on.
posted by humanfont at 10:28 AM on September 18, 2011


This book says it. I believe it. That settles it.
posted by pianomover at 10:44 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”

Dunn declined to discuss the specifics of the book. But in an interview Friday she said she told Suskind “point blank” that the White House “was not a hostile environment.”


So was it or wasn't it? Make up yo mind, lady.
posted by polymodus at 11:06 AM on September 18, 2011


I find it hard to believe, just because of who he's married to. But having worked in places where this was an issue, I don't find the citation of numbers of judicial appointees or Cabinet members to be convincing in themselves. I have seen this kind of thing before--women promoted to a certain level but there's often an inner circle that doesn't depend on title as much as comfort zone. Who does the boss walk off with for a coffee and a chat about what's really going on? Who's got the inside info? Numbers don't always show the real picture.
posted by etaoin at 11:07 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This book says it. I believe it. That settles it.

The author is a winner of the Pulitzer prize. I'd rather give him some benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, the Post article is so sketchy on details—it doesn't even read like a review—I'd be more inclined to guess that there is some newspaper distortion going on.
posted by polymodus at 11:10 AM on September 18, 2011


I have seen this kind of thing before--women promoted to a certain level but there's often an inner circle that doesn't depend on title as much as comfort zone.

Agreed. We all know about glass ceiling / tokenism issues. Examining how the president chooses official posts and how he treats family members is only indirect evidence to counter the accusation being made here.
posted by polymodus at 11:12 AM on September 18, 2011


Well, at least we know what the drumbeats and smoke-signals over at FOX News will be all about this week.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:19 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The author is a winner of the Pulitzer prize. I'd rather give him some benefit of the doubt.

Judith Miller won a Pulitzer, too.

Like winning an Emmy or an Oscar - it's a prize you get for just making shit up.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:49 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


In other White House news: The White House Brews Its Own Beer
posted by homunculus at 12:12 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder when Dunn will be accepting a position on Fox News...

Seriously, how many women has the President tapped to head powerful agencies or man powerful positions in various departments?
posted by Slackermagee at 12:20 PM on September 18, 2011


"The president has a real woman problem."

This must be why he's appointed so many women to positions of power in his administration. I smell PUMA.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Look, for a major example, at the casual way Obama threw away reproductive rights in a pathetic attempt to get Republican support for the ACA. You don't do that sort of thing if you think women are people.

I would "throw reproductive rights away" (meaning, not fund them) in order to get functional health care legislation passed. Women are people--who NEED HEALTH CARE. We need to go to the doctor instead of the ER, we need prenatal care, we need pap smears, we need treatment for heart disease, we need treatment for diabetes, we need treatment for asthma.

Abortion is not the only procedure that women need. But too often it's the only one that women's rights groups give a shit about while poor women have their feet amputated because they can't get decent treatment for their diabetes. Fuck. That.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:54 PM on September 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


In other Timothy Geithner news: Advice on Debt? Europe Suggests U.S. Can Keep It
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on September 18, 2011


@the young rope-rider If we'd gotten functional health care legislation passed you might have a point. Instead we got nothing even faintly resembling functional health care legislation passed while at the same time giving legitimacy to anti-choice talking points and losing important legislative battles that will take decades to win again.
posted by sotonohito at 1:05 PM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


True! Health care legislation was a joke! However, I disagree that it gave legitimacy to anti-choice talking points and frankly, the way that women's rights groups I was a part of were actively campaigning against any kind of health care legislation due to the specific abortion issue really bothered me. Making abortion the number one most important issue for health care reform is rooted in myopic classism.

Anyway, this is getting somewhat off-topic, but my point stands--the exchange of abortion for everything else is a valid one that does not indicate an inherent disregard for women as people.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:24 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


the exchange of funded abortion for everything else is a valid one that does not indicate an inherent disregard for women as people.

Very important distinction.
posted by namespan at 1:35 PM on September 18, 2011


"Dunn appeared to have toned down her statements in an interview on Friday, saying the White House "was not a hostile environment."

She goes farther than that: She says that she told the author of the book point blank that it is not a hostile environment.

The unclear part is whether she was denying that the original statement was ever made, admitting that the original statement was made but retracting it, or just not commenting on the original statement. This seems like an important distinction.
"

Just to touch on something here, if you pay attention to what Dunn said, it's pretty clear that she didn't consider it a hostile workplace. Instead, she was saying that it legally fit the definition, but with the implication that the definition didn't fit aside from in a technical sense.

That goes along with what the other women have said, and their claims of being taken out of context.

As for taking this seriously: It's an incredibly thin post, reporting only that there are disputed allegations in an upcoming book. Are those allegations credible? They don't seem to be at the moment, but who knows? It's a little irresponsible to post this without knowing more, if only because it seems heavily implies something that's actually disputed. If the OP wants to present himself elsewhere as a paragon of skepticism, it would be more consistent to demonstrate skepticism where it's warranted.

That said, the discussions of Romney and Bush are pretty irrelevant. If Obama's White House is hostile to women, that's something that deserves to be discussed, and that someone else was worse or will be worse doesn't mean that this isn't worth being concerned about, only that those tempted to think of it as the last straw before voting ought to fully consider the context.
posted by klangklangston at 1:47 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


homunculus wrote: In other White House news: The White House Brews Its Own Beer

BOYS CLUB!!!!!@#$@!#$@!#$

</snark>
posted by wierdo at 1:54 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: " Criticizing Obama != endorsing Republicans."

To some of his supporters, it is. Which fyi, does not make them idiots. It's a matter of disagreement, not stupidity.

sotonohito: "@zarq Not only classy,

You're declaring that people who disagree with you or misinterpret you in specific ways are idiots. You are adding nothing but noise to the discussion by doing so.

but also completely ineffective. Note that a nameless individual, despite the notice, went immediately to "Oh so you want Romney!"

You will never, ever convince people who disagree with you of the value of your positions by calling them names.

Nor are you explaining why your position has merit by doing so.
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on September 18, 2011


zarq: Which fyi, does not make them idiots.

Late to this, but I'm pretty sure it does, in fact, make them idiots. With us or against us!
posted by downing street memo at 2:34 PM on September 18, 2011


Good luck accomplishing anything more than preaching to the choir then.
posted by zarq at 2:59 PM on September 18, 2011


If you want change, you need votes. If you want votes, you need compromise.

Really? The GOP wants change -- they want every social support system destroyed. They categorically refuse in any way to compromise.

And, amazingly enough, they have complete control of the political discourse, they are coming off a successful election, they're running against a president with a sub 50% approval rating, and are in a good position to actually take over the Senate and White House.

So, really, you need compromise for votes? Seriously?
posted by eriko at 4:17 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, Eriko, the GOP has *not succeeded* in having every social support system destroyed, thus far. They're not just walking in, proposing Tea Party legislation, and having it float right through. It's not happening. Some of them aren't compromising their rhetoric, but they're also not actually making that agenda happen, so far, and even after six years of the House and Senate both being controlled by Republicans during the Bush era, we're still all seeing taxes deducted from our paychecks and the Department of Education still exists and so on. They don't have any easier a time of it than the Democrats do.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:27 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


amazingly enough, they have complete control of the political discourse, they are coming off a successful election, they're running against a president with a sub 50% approval rating, and are in a good position to actually take over the Senate and White House.

So, really, you need compromise for votes? Seriously?


Do you count to 60 differently than the rest of us (and whatever 200+ number in the House) ?

Repubs are the greatest propaganda machine since WWII Germany (which, really, pales by comparison).

Obama is judged by improvement in economy; he is judged by what changes he implements. Repubs "win" for every %-point loss of presidential support, negative story (hello Solyndra!) and failure to persuade the teaparty psychopaths to vote for short term deficit-funded jobs/state/infrastructure support.

The saddest, most pathetic thing about the profile of dastardly circumstances laid out before the Obama team is that what we are really seeing is that the president has very little ability to effect great change on a basket-case economy. Noone and no policy shifts could have, in all likelihood, improved the economy more than has been implemented in the last couple of years. It's all tweaks at the margin. There's just a bit less pain for the unemployed and poorly paid buggers under Obama than it would be in the alternative fascist-protect-the-rich-and-destroy-the-govt position.
posted by peacay at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, meant to add: this is why half-baked criticisms like the alleged woman-"problem" is so much more about kicking the team when it's down. It's just another one of those plays in the giant Fox/Republican propaganda tactical game that's trying to construct a narrative of Obama being fatally wounded and incapable and doomed. If something negative about values important to the core Democrat ethos can be flown up a pole a la Suskind, then that's a Republican win too. I don't know why such thin rubbish is regarded as post-worthy.
posted by peacay at 6:34 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Judith Miller won a Pulitzer, too.

Like winning an Emmy or an Oscar - it's a prize you get for just making shit up.


It seems like you are saying most Pulitzer laureates are like Judith Miller. Are you saying that? It sounds illogical to me. Let me know if you meant something else.
posted by polymodus at 6:49 PM on September 18, 2011


Do you count to 60 differently than the rest of us (and whatever 200+ number in the House) ?

Funny, the GOP, when they controlled the Senate, was pretty much able to put almost any legislation they wanted through. Indeed, they were so succesful that when thier major tax package expired, they were able to get Obama to agree to renew it.

When the Democrats had a 60 seat majority in the Senate, it too an incredible amount of compromise to put a health care bill that mirrored a proposal by the fucking Heritage Foundation through -- one that not one single member of the GOP voted for.

And it's a bill that the GOP is using to drive the last vestiges of the democratic party out of power.

So, yes. I count to 60 differently than you. You think that an 39 member majority in the House, and a 10 member member majority in the Senate, means that you have to compromise to get legislation passed.

The GOP disagrees with that.

Who's winning?

Hint: It's not you.
posted by eriko at 9:33 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


eriko, I hear your anger but I don't quite get what you're on about. Obviously the GOP are winning, are the best propagandists, are the best at getting their members to toe the line and are the best at not-negotiating. In that situation, combined with blue dog reality, the guy has to compromise. The alternative would have been never ever ever getting anything legislated. Not ever. So decent is the enemy of the just barely possible, which even now, seems destined for the GOP-controlled Supreme Court.

The country may not have moved significantly left or right but the politics has taken a very sharp rightward move. Dems do not create a fighting machine in any dimension close to the attack borg that is the GOP. So whinge and complain all you want about a backbone-less president or the somesuch, but that's just another stepping stone up for GOP power. They don't give a fuck about anything other than killing of Dems and getting power and they do anyfuckingthing necessary to achieve. But I think you know that.

I posted this in another thread the other day, but it's one of the most important, devastaing and interesting political reads of the year: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.
posted by peacay at 10:08 PM on September 18, 2011


It seems like you are saying most Pulitzer laureates are like Judith Miller.

I wouldn't dare speak for Pogo_Fuzzybutt, but if he or she is implying that a Pulitzer does not automatically imply credibility on the part of its winner, I'd agree with that notion. Much like, say, granting a Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger or Barack Obama doesn't automatically impart moral credibility to its recipient, even if other recipients may be worthy of the accolade. An award is not a get-out-jail-free card.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 PM on September 18, 2011


In that situation, combined with blue dog reality, the guy has to compromise. (emphasis mine)

"I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." - Will Rogers

This is exactly it - the Democrats span a wide range of the political spectrum all by themselves. Being a Democrat doesn't put you on the left. It doesn't even necessarily put you to the left of all Republicans. So it's really unrealistic to expect the Democrats to show the same party unity that Republicans often manage.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:51 PM on September 18, 2011


haha, MeFi would be all over the Bush administration for a post like this. But, with Obama, it's - who can believe this woman who hasn't been with the administration for a while? Who, who can believe this one story represents a real snub? This is all just an effort to sell books! etc etc. It's all so predictable watching this.

It's very predictable when you ignore the evidence that goes contrary to your prediction. Such as the many comments that do agree that it is a problem. But you ignore them like them were made by women or something.
posted by srboisvert at 3:35 AM on September 19, 2011


...the GOP has *not succeeded* in having every social support system destroyed, thus far. They're not just walking in, proposing Tea Party legislation, and having it float right through. It's not happening.

"gracedissolved, Wisconsin for you on the white courtesy phone, Wisconsin calling gracedissolved."
posted by Floydd at 5:24 AM on September 19, 2011


eriko wrote: When the Democrats had a 60 seat majority in the Senate, it too an incredible amount of compromise to put a health care bill that mirrored a proposal by the fucking Heritage Foundation through -- one that not one single member of the GOP voted for.

And it's a bill that the GOP is using to drive the last vestiges of the democratic party out of power.


You seem to be under the mistaken impression that conservative Democrats actually wanted health care reform. Or that Ted Kennedy was available for a vote.
posted by wierdo at 7:00 AM on September 19, 2011


@zarq I'm afraid I must disagree. Anyone who argues that criticism of X means endorsement of Y is an idiot. I'm perfectly comfortable brushing off and mortally offending anyone who thinks that mere criticism of Obama is an endorsement of any Republican.

They're not my allies and they wouldn't be on my side anyway so if I offend them so much they stop talking to me I see that as a gain, it means fewer idiots wasting my time with their yammer.

@peacay "In that situation, combined with blue dog reality, the guy has to compromise. The alternative would have been never ever ever getting anything legislated. Not ever."

Ok. Then we don't do anything.

Better the government stay in stasis, stay exactly as it is right this second, than we give in and let the Republicans make things even worse in the name of "compromise". If the only possible action we can take is action that will embolden Republicans and make the country worse than the better choice is to do nothing at all.

We've got enough laws already. There's a few I'd like passed (marriage equality, stuff like that), but if that's not possible (and you make a very pursuasive case that it isn't) than why should we start doing bad stuff just to have things moving?

Why is "getting things done" so important that we have to do it even if the only things that get done are horrible, awful, regressive, Republican things? Why not stick where we are rather than let them dictate from the minority and enact a Republican agenda? I'll agree that where we are right now is far from great, but it beats what the Republicans want to enact, better we just stay in place than let the Republicans drag us backward.

"So whinge and complain all you want about a backbone-less president or the somesuch, but that's just another stepping stone up for GOP power."

Please explain just what, exactly, a genuine liberal is supposed to do in order to attempt to advance a liberal agenda?

You've taken actually passing bills off the table, that you've declared is completely and utterly impossible and any liberal who hopes to get something real passed is merely an idiot.

Now you tell us that anything but absolute continuous praise for Obama no matter what he does is treason to the party and will accomplish nothing but advancing Republican agendas.

What, please, would you have us do? Just surrender? Just give up? Forget about ever achieving anything but slowing, not stopping but merely slowing, the inevitable Republican demolition of all we hold dear?

When Obama grants legitimacy and the stamp of bi-partisanship to Republican ideological goals what would you have us do? Cheer him because he isn't Palin?

Tell me what you think the proper course of action is for liberals.

So far you've told us that mere criticism is evil and unacceptable, so what is acceptable?
posted by sotonohito at 7:47 AM on September 19, 2011


sotonohito: "@zarq I'm afraid I must disagree. Anyone who argues that criticism of X means endorsement of Y is an idiot.

This is one of my favorite Molly Ivins columns, entitled "Why I'm voting for Ralph." I've put it in one or two comments on the Blue before.

Now, attacking someone for not presenting a united front is obviously different than voting for a third party candidate in an election. But it seems logical and reasonable to acknowledge that people's fears of political "spoilers" didn't evolve in a vacuum, and that inevitably, people who are afraid of the current Republican voting bloc tactics will express their concerns. I don't agree with them, but at the same time writing them off as idiots doesn't make sense to me. Worse, spewing insults distracts from the very real, very important issues facing us at the moment.

I'm perfectly comfortable brushing off and mortally offending anyone who thinks that mere criticism of Obama is an endorsement of any Republican. They're not my allies and they wouldn't be on my side anyway so if I offend them so much they stop talking to me I see that as a gain, it means fewer idiots wasting my time with their yammer."

Preaching to the choir is a useless endeavor.

I guess I'd generally rather treat such people as potential allies to be won over rather than as ideological enemies. And not publicly declare them mentally deficient. Which I think is deeply counterproductive, especially since their reasoning isn't necessarily malicious.
posted by zarq at 8:13 AM on September 19, 2011


When was the last time Obama had good press? The bin Laden killing? The wheels are completely coming off this administration.

Yeah, and that's the administration's fault because it controls the press, and there's nothing going on timing wise that might account for the media hyping stories that make Obama look bad--or especially, that might threaten to encourage a schism among the supporters of his rival in the previous election.

God this shit just looks so transparent to me. I wish I could see it the way the rest of you do--as if this were about anything more than cynical political manipulation. But all I can see here is politics being played the way they are played now: this story seems calculated to help further the process of peeling away support from Obama before the next election by hitting him where he's vulnerable: among Clinton supporters from the last election cycle who might still be suffering from a misguided sense of injustice over Clinton's having lost.

You all live in a much less cynical world than I do to still be able to read news like this and not immediately see it for the calculated political hatchet job it is.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:19 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: " God this shit just looks so transparent to me. I wish I could see it the way the rest of you do--as if this were about anything more than cynical political manipulation. But all I can see here is politics being played the way they are played now: this story seems calculated to help further the process of peeling away support from Obama before the next election by hitting him where he's vulnerable: among Clinton supporters from the last election cycle who might still be suffering from a misguided sense of injustice over Clinton's having lost."

He's the first Black President. This is a breaking story about possible discrimination in his administration. It's a story that does not require political bias to be seen as big news.

Also, Ron Suskind wrote repeated articles like this one and this one during the Bush administration about the inner workings of the Bush/Cheney/Rove White House. As a result, he's not exactly beloved by the Right, nor is he likely to be part of the so-called Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
posted by zarq at 9:41 AM on September 19, 2011


You all live in a much less cynical world than I do to still be able to read news like this and not immediately see it for the calculated political hatchet job it is.

Pretty much from its first appearance to its arrival on Metafilter.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:01 AM on September 19, 2011


@saulgoodman Not sure I agree. You could be right, but not everything bad has to be a Republican plot.

To go back a Democratic administration, Bill Clinton really was a philandering womanizer. The fact that this gave a great deal of assistance to the Republicans (after nearly a decade of witch hunts to try and find **something** to nail him with) did not make him any less of a philandering womanizer.

Equally it is possible that Obama really does tend to marginalize women in his administration.

And speaking as a guy who was anti-Clinton because I really didn't like the idea of the blatant oligarchy that'd reinforce (first a former President's son, then a former President's wife, not really a good thing to encourage; IMO Hillary Clinton should never have run.) I'd be disturbed if it were true.

As far as giving ammo to the right, I don't think we have much need to worry. Any woman who is going to vote for the Republicans at this point isn't the sort of person who would vote for Obama regardless of whether or not his administration marginalizes women.
posted by sotonohito at 11:33 AM on September 19, 2011


sotonohito, I wasn't addressing you and have no intention of engaging with such a cynical and disingenuous commenter.
posted by peacay at 12:17 PM on September 19, 2011


Whether there's any substance to the story or not, it's timing and editorial selection are surely political. This has all the earmarks of a classic political hatchet job, and it couldn't be easier to spot because it does exactly what a political strategist would say needs to happen. It hits all the right nerves to foster further schism between Obama supporters and formerly pro-Clinton Democrats, to further divide what should be a natural political coalition. That doesn't just happen by coincidence. Ever. Whether the press has got to do with Obama or the new line of box stores that wants to move into your neighborhood.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:22 PM on September 19, 2011


saulgoodman: "Whether there's any substance to the story or not, it's timing and editorial selection are surely political.

What is special about the timing?

We are a full year away from the next Presidential election. This would have had far worse political impact for the White House if it had come out in September of next year. Now, they have the ability and time to get in front of it. And to allow the segment of the voting public who cares about this to determine whether or not there is a problem.

This accusation would have done more damage if it had happened closer to the Democratic convention, so I see nothing particularly special about the timing. What are you seeing that I'm not?

This has all the earmarks of a classic political hatchet job, and it couldn't be easier to spot because it does exactly what a political strategist would say needs to happen. It hits all the right nerves to foster further schism between Obama supporters and formerly pro-Clinton Democrats, to further divide what should be a natural political coalition.

As far as I can see, there is no "natural political coalition." I supported Clinton right up until the Democratic convention. I'm still extremely disappointed at the way her supporters were treated by our fellow Democrats at sites like Daily Kos in the run up to the election. We were attacked for not toeing the party line, which sucked.

I support Obama because he's the lesser of all evils. Because after the shit they've pulled it'll be a cold day in hell before I vote Republican ever again. Because I'm vehemently pro-choice and pro-gay rights. And the anti-science, dominionist, anti-intellectuals would utterly destroy and bankrupt this country if given the chance. But our President has gone back on his word on things that matter to me enough times over the last 3 years that I'd rather see a Democrat with some balls in that office next term. And I daresay I'm not the only moderate Democrat around who feels that way.

However, we all know a better Democrat is not going to magically materialize, so I'll be voting for Obama. Again.

Note that there is nowhere for disgruntled ex-Clinton supporters to go. It's not as if they're going to jump on the Palin bandwagon. Or Bachmann's. The idea is laughable.

And we don't even really know if this is something that Suskind went into detail in his book or if the media is blowing something small and insignificant out of proportion. Again.
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama's Economic Quagmire --- a conversation about what's really in the book by 2 people who read it.
posted by peacay at 3:00 PM on September 19, 2011


Let me try that again:
http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/09/obamas_economic_quagmire_frank.html
posted by peacay at 3:10 PM on September 19, 2011


This will give Greenwald, Limbaugh and the other Obama haters some new material to echo chamber on.

Greenwald seems to be more concerned with the new $25,000,000 - $100,000,000 prison we're planning to build in Bagram, at least for now.
posted by homunculus at 8:32 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


On Monday, Suskind allowed a Post reporter to review a recorded excerpt of the original interview, which took place over the telephone in April. In that conversation, Dunn is heard telling Suskind about a conversation she had with Jarrett.

"I remember once I told Valerie that, I said if it weren’t for the president, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” Dunn is heard telling Suskind. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”
(Emphasis mine)
posted by dirigibleman at 9:57 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why anyone would find it surprising that a boys-club atmosphere prevailed in the White House. It's the ultimate power center and hence the ultimate boys-club, regardless of the increasing numbers of women being admitted. High status power dudes like Summers and Emmanuel will always do their best to intimidate and shut people down as a strategy, and this will disproportionately disadvantage women in the workplace. It would have been this way under Hillary; it will be this way under Democrats or Republicans. It will be this way until we're at true gender parity, which won't be for another century.
posted by yarly at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2011


zarq wrote: Note that there is nowhere for disgruntled ex-Clinton supporters to go. It's not as if they're going to jump on the Palin bandwagon. Or Bachmann's. The idea is laughable.

The point is not to get votes for Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Perry, or whomever. The point is to suppress Democratic turnout. Even if this turns out to be the complete bunkum I figure it is (at least given its framing), the seed will be planted, and that could be plenty to keep someone home on election day.

Note that I'm not saying that's Suskind's purpose with putting that in the book. That doesn't mean that other people can't be pushing this story for their own reasons.
posted by wierdo at 11:33 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other investigative news: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Assigns 'Cold Case Posse' To Investigate Obama's Birth Certificate

What Else Should Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio Investigate?
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on September 20, 2011


What, please, would you have us do?

Vote Nader/Palin!
"'I think she's a lot smarter than most people credit her,' says Nader."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:48 PM on September 20, 2011


Wow. Eliding "if it weren't for the president" is akin to eliding the word "not". That's... incredibly surprising that the author would do that.
posted by Flunkie at 1:39 PM on September 20, 2011


@octobersurprise It is astonishing how quickly and casually Nader has thrown away all the goodwill he once had.

He got a bum rap after the 2000 elections, and it seems as if from that point forward he decided that his new goal in life was to just be contrary and to piss off as many liberals as he could.

Once Nader was a legitimate political figure, once he had real causes and did good. Today he's endorsing Sarah Palin.
posted by sotonohito at 1:55 PM on September 20, 2011


The point is not to get votes for Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Perry, or whomever. The point is to suppress Democratic turnout.

And all they need to do is to omit six words, let the blogosphere go GRAR and by the time those six words are discovered, the "OBAMA HATE WOMAN" meme is already loose on the Internet and the MeFi thread is on Page 2 and most of the people who are pissed off about the article never learn the truth. GAME SET MATCH.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:49 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today he's endorsing Sarah Palin.

Which seems so inevitable in retrospect. I can't think of two figures on the modern political scene with such a similar approach to their work.

Once Nader was a legitimate political figure, once he had real causes and did good.

I'm too young to remember this, apparently.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:37 AM on September 21, 2011


Nader didn't "endorse" Palin - he said that he appreciated her anti-corporatist view and cited to some specific stuff she did as Alaska governor. People quickly forget that side of Palin in their rush to judge her (judgments which usually have more than a tinge of misogyny.)

It is astonishing how quickly and casually Nader has thrown away all the goodwill he once had.

He got a bum rap after the 2000 elections, and it seems as if from that point forward he decided that his new goal in life was to just be contrary and to piss off as many liberals as he could.


This again? The problem with Nader is that he is actually much more radical than party faithful on the right or left appreciate. He is truly for the people (the "consumer") against the corporations. The fact is that Gore couldn't even win his own home state of Tennessee; Nader is not to be blamed for the 2000s. For better or for worse, Nader is a true outsider; he's not a party hack, even a little bit. He has his own crusade and he's on it, regardless of electoral politics. Nader has done an immense amount of good and established a legacy of organizations, advocacy approaches, and legal strategies that will stand for decades.
posted by yarly at 9:02 AM on September 21, 2011


@octobersurprise Nader was one of the early, powerful, voices for consumer protection in the USA. His activism is one of the key reasons why cars even have seatbelts and all the other protection devices we take for granted today.

As yarly observes he's done an amazing amount of good.

Which is why I'm so amazed that he seems so determined to piss it all away.

And, yarly, do you really think for even a moment Palin's occasional words of populism would actually have produced any concrete anti-corporatist action? I don't. She just knows what to say to stir up the base. That Nader falls for her BS is simply a sign of his further slippage into senility and irrelevancy and I think it's a shame he's damaging himself so badly.
posted by sotonohito at 9:15 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Suskind was on the Daily Show last night.

Extended Interview Pt. 1: Ron Suskind discusses Barack Obama's relationship with his advisors and his evolution as a leader throughout his presidency.

Extended Interview Pt. 2: Ron Suskind explains Wall Street's beef with Barack Obama and thinks the president is at a crossroads in proving his leadership ability.
posted by homunculus at 9:24 AM on September 21, 2011


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